George Mason Treat
White Co., AR

Researched by Chird Bobbitt

Bittersweet legacy arrives at residence

The mail recently brought a long overdue package to the Treat family home on Albion Road in Searcy. The package was addressed to Thomas E. Treat, deceased since August 13, 2001 and was from the U. S. Army .

Like so many young men during World War II Thomas Treat had marched off to war. In 1944 at age 18, he joined the Army and by the time her turned 20, he was battle-hardened veteran of the European theater. As a member of the armored infantry he fought through the fringes of Austria and along the Ruhr Valley, pushing back the last of Wehrmacht's resistance. During the early years of the Allied Occupation in Germany, he served in the motor pool as both a driver and mechanic, providing support for Army personnel and the United Services Organization. His wife Freda Helen Norman Treat recalls that on one occasion her husband drove for comedian and actor, Bob Hope.

When it came time for Treat to return home from his last tour of duty there was a measure of confusion at his de-mobilization center in the States. Records for thousands of young men had been sent to the wrong place and could not be located. After days of delay, many of these young men were handed discharge papers and told they could leave, despite the fact their records had yet to be found. The bureaucracy could arrange for their discharge, but final pay packages, decorations and other benefits were placed on hold. Like many others, Treat accepted his discharge papers gratefully and returned home to his family and his girl, Freda.

One delay led to another. Work, marriage, family and fire at the central records depot where Treat's military records were stored. The result of all these delays was that he never received several of his military decorations.

Later in his life Treat began the process of trying to correct this oversight. He wrote letters and made a series of phone calls. Assurances were made that the process to get his medals had been put in motion. Ray Rawlings and Larry Robinson of the Veterans Service Office in Searcy assisted Treat in his efforts. This past fall, more than two years after her husband's death, Freda went to her mailbox and found a package from the government containing those decorations. They included the European/African/Middle Eastern Campaign, The World War II Victory and the Army of the Occupation ribbons, the Combat Infantry Badge and the Bronze Star.

As defined by the Veterans Administration, the Combat Infantry Badge and the Bronze Star are battlefield commendations for heroic or meritorious conduct while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States. Treat's children and grandchildren never knew he had earned either of these recognitions. Freda knew, but as has her husband declined to talk about the darker aspects of his war experience, she never understood exactly under what conditions he received those commendations. That being the case, much of the history that lay behind these decorations has been lost. Their arrival at the Treat home after so long a delay is a proud, but bittersweet legacy.

Thomas Elton Treat was born on December 29, 1925, the second of thirteen children born to George Mason Treat and Mozella E. Margaret Baker Treat of Holly Springs. He married Freda Helen Norman of Pangburn on June 16, 1947. The couple have two daughters, Darla Treat Courtney of Charles Town, WV and Carla Treat Stapleton of McCory. They also have three granddaughters and several great-grandchildren.

Published Sunday, May 30, 2004



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White County, Arkansas